Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Yes man

Over the next few days -- as is my custom after a new EVE expansion -- I'm going to be writing about some of my favorite features from Odyssey or features that I think are interesting for some reason.  Here are a couple of example posts from Retribution, one almost entirely positive and another where I (gasp!) mostly defend CCP Greyscale while talking about a Retribution change.  And it's that latter post that I want to talk about some.  Because I ended that post this way:
So all in all, if you ask me how I feel about this change... I'd say I'm extremely ambivalent about how it came to pass, not that concerned about the change on its own merits, and thoughtful about what the change means within the philosophy of the game.
In short, I was... ummm... a bit negative about CCP's decision-making and communications and how it was applied to the particular feature I was talking about.

But now as a CSM member, I'm sometimes working directly with the CCP devs that are making these sorts of decisions.

I was running for CSM8 at the time I wrote both of the posts above.  Did that come up in the posts themselves?  It did not.  But it sure came up in the comments, and more than once!  Our old friend Poetic Stanziel had this to say at the time:
This is what I'm expecting of you as a CSM. When you're in Iceland or chatting on Skype with a dev and they try to feed you some line you know doesn't make any sense (such as, "we're not, in general and with exceptions, fans of multi-function modules"), that'll you'll call them on it.
And while that's put a more bluntly than I would say it, I have to admit that I mostly agree with the sentiment.  And in private, that's what I've been doing: if a CCP dev does something and I don't agree with it, I've been saying so (though happily, that situation has been vanishingly rare so far).  But once a feature or other CCP decision goes public that I happen to disagree with, should I go public with the fact that I disagreed with it?

Sigh.  This job was supposed to be sunshine, happiness, and free trips to Iceland.

In short, it's not as easy a call as it appears at first glance.  I personally have always believed that people of good conscience, all doing the best jobs they know how to do, should be able to disagree and then move forward from there once the final decision is made.  Hell, in my real life job, I've gotten into contentious disagreements with someone about some point and then gone to lunch with them 15 minutes later.  It's not personal.  It's business.  I have to work productively and in a friendly way with CCP devs even when they do things I disagree with and I hope they feel the same way.

That's my take on it.  But other CSM members might view it as a risk-reward proposition.  If I say in public "I believe this was a dumb call, I argued against it at the time, and I got overruled" or even just a straight "I believe this was a poor decision", I risk the relationship with CCP and potentially build up a reputation as someone CCP devs might not want to work with.  That risks my ability to function as a CSM member for the somewhat dubious reward of scoring points with you fine people.  ;-)

And yet, I have a second job that I've been doing for lots longer of being someone who comments and gives his opinion on CCP and this game we love.  Lots of times those opinions are positive and other times, they're... less so.  Am I less myself if I muzzle myself to keep from risking my access?

Let's cut to the chase: I'm not going to do that.  If CCP does something that I disagree with and I feel like it's worth writing a blog post about, I'm going to continue to do that, just as if the CSM didn't exist.  Of course, I'm only going to stick to things that happen in public.  But once a feature or CCP decision that I disagree with goes public, I'm going to feel free to talk about my own opinions of it, being careful to stay well clear of the NDA.  When I can, I'll get the CCP employee involved in the discussion either through forum posts they make in public or by asking them my questions directly.  But short version: that CSM flag isn't going to cause me to muzzle myself.

Fair enough?  Discuss.

26 comments:

  1. Fair enough. I expected no less from you, thanks!

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  2. To use an example from another sector, look at the US Supreme Court. There, the judges who disagree with the main ruling get to file a dissent outlining their reasoning. The majority rule still holds, though.

    They don't have to shut up and pretend that they always supported the final decision. And arguably this practice of dissents leads to better law overall because we can look back and see that a dissent was more correct than was thought at the time.

    In the same way, I see nothing wrong with you as a CSM member publishing a reasoned dissent against a CCP or CSM decision.

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  3. I sympathize with your situation - my RL role is often the same way. Given the fact that you are in fact an unpaid customer in a volunteer role, I think you are making the right choice.

    If you were a CCP employee, it would be a different story - then you would need to toe the company line.

    But you aren't - you are a player representative.

    Keep up the good work and keep writing.

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  4. Jester,

    Simply put, you I feel with your experiences has a much broader outlook than a typical DEV. DEV's need to learn that at the end of the day they are in a business and need to suck it up like the rest of us.

    Sometimes that will go well, sometimes....it won't. But if you are there as the rep we all voted for, the last thing we want is voluntary muzzling of yourself.

    TL/DR...F-em if they can't take a joke and keep doing what you do best. 300 days from now if we aren't happy, we'll boot you. If they aren't happy, we'll elect you again...;-)

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  5. This happens all the time, you have a disagreement about something, you discuss and advocate and once its settled, you move on. You feel that after that feature/change becomes public, I've already had this discussion, why do I need to rehash it in public? The difference is that in EVE/CSM you have another party of interest and that is of your constituents in the player base. Its important that those people know you disagreed on this issue because your silence is considered approval.

    When a feature/change goes public and you still disagree with it, you should make it known to your constituents that you were not in favor of it and advocated against it. That way the people who also don't agree with that change know that you're there fighting their fight and that you're the man for them should you seek re-election. Don't use words like "dumb call" or "poor decision" because those are unnecessary bombs being lobbed at the other side which will cause friction. You disagreed, this is why and at the end of the day they went in this direction.

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    1. Amen.

      Ali Aras was having the same discussion on her blog, making the same points as Jester and asking the same questions. This answer is so very much better than my own ramblings on her post and is exactly what I was trying to say there.

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  6. Dinsdale PirannhaJune 6, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    Bottom line, the game designers like soundwave, greyscale, fozzie,(seriously, they really expect people to believe they gave up their allegiances when they joined CCP?) are working directly with the null sec zealot leaders to wipe out high sec, slowly but surely, brick by brick. I am quite sure they have private discussions about what will be later introduced to the CSM, and ultimately to the Eve playing public.

    The main reason that the null sec zealots work so hard to co-opt as much of the CSM as they possibly can is to avoid as much dissension as possible when CCP introduces yet another barrage on high sec, or another gift to null sec. Conversely, having a huge contingent of null sec zealots on the CSM allows for a "near-concensus" of agreement of any idea that the CSM presents to CCP, which invariably is an attack on high sec / huge buff to null sec.

    So as much as you say you will write up a dissent, after the fact, when nothing can be done about it, leaves me rather cold. I realize the NDA prohibits you from being honest when it might matter.

    I would much prefer a system where you could blog almost daily about what is being discussed, much as you would see in a house of parliament, congress, senate, or any seat of democracy. But this is no democracy. And that is just the way CCP / null sec wants it. You are one of our elected officials, but you do all the governing in secret, which is a farce.

    And lastly, while you come from a non-sov null, and should be reasonably neutral, I cannot accept you have the game's best interests at heart. I fear that when faced with an overwhelming pressure to conform to the "kill high sec, let's make money for null sec cartel leaders" agenda, you will be unable to stand with the tiny minority, which sadly represents the majority of players.

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    1. You need to get out more!

      This isn't a democracy, we don't need oversight over our elected CSM leaders because that's not what they are. They don't govern anything - the CSM can make no decision that force me to do anything.

      CSM at it's most basic form is a customer focus group. Yes they're elected, but that's so that they're getting a focus group that represents the breadth of their customer's views - something which randomly picking N customers won't necessarily do.

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    2. Dimsdale... jezuz man... it's really getting old, but...
      (1) EVE Online is a Internet based MMO(RP) GAME, wholly owned and created and run by CCP, a private 'for profit' company. Period.
      (2) EVE Online is not a democracy, or any other type of public government due to point (1) above.
      (3) AS such, iE a for profit game, you, the consumer, have the luxury of choosing whether or not to pay (or PLEX) an account on EVE Online. This means if you are unhappy, at all, with the game or any facet of the game YOU can GO ELSEWHERE.
      (4) ALL of your tinhattery as re CCP/Devs/Nullsec is all just that, tinhat accusation and conspiracy theories and worth the recycled electrons you spew out about them.

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  7. Getting the dev involved might actually be very interesting, especially when the dev is willing to briefly explain why he override the concerns of the CSM. It could give us players a better insight into the way CCP thinks and what trade-offs they make when designing highly contentious features (and there are always trade-offs).

    And to be fair, in such a post I would let the dev have the last word (paragraph), since he has no time to respond to you criticising his critism of your concerns.

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  8. More confrontational than I would've put it...

    Especially since some of the recent hires as devs ( Raivi, Kill2...)probably DO know more about the game than our esteemed host. if only by inches and degrees...

    But, in general, you're correct.

    Jester, yeah, I think you have the right idea. please DO sound out when you dislike something that passed despite your input opposing it. I liked the previous poster's comparison with SC dissenting opinions.

    if the CSM/CCP relationship is too weak to take something like THAT, polite dissent after the fact, it'd probably be time to work towards Summer of Rage II. But I get the feeling that ain't the case.

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  9. what do you say to ccp if they would ask about your opinion about the mintship stuff?
    to me it looks like ccp didnt expected that. or they even thought everyone would be happy.

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  10. Completely agree with your conclusion that the best thing is to be honest about it. From most of what I've read of/about the CCP Devs I believe most would completely understand your position, and I'm sure they have their reasons for the decisions they made that you didn't like. Any criticism that you provide, especially publicly, will hopefully help to make sure CCP firmly believes in their decisions.

    Of course there are good and bad ways to publicly show your disagreement, but I have 100% faith that you are able (and always have been) to express your thoughts in a good, constructive way.

    As a CSM member I appreciate your honesty in the face of potentially conflicting interests, and as a blogger I appreciate your insight. Keep up the good work :)

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  11. I can understand the temptation to become a Hans Jagerblitzen ("I can't criticise them, they're my friends now"), so I'm very glad to see you resisting that temptation and keeping the relationship on a professional keel.

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  12. If csm members are muzzling themselves then they are doing exactly what they aren't supposed to be doing. CCP created the csm to represent the players to help them create a better overall game, and that's why we elect them. How is this even a debate?

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    1. Zigs nailed it - I don't know why you're even questioning this in the first place. In fact, this article almost feels like pandering to those that want a big bad tough CSM warrior because you already know good and well there's no reason to stymie your opinion as long as you don't violate the NDA. :-P

      Truth is there's nothing to be gained by withholding criticism from CCP publicly or privately, they can handle it just fine. Public dissension with a CCP decision never crippled CSM7's relationship with CCP, and it won't cripple CSM8's relationship with CCP either, unless they've suddenly become way more sensitive than during our term, and there's no evidence of this.

      With any luck you'll get them to cooperate on making adjustments to features that are to your liking and you won't HAVE to criticize them too much because you will have influenced the feature before its even released. You'll get to enjoy some of the "sycophant" nonsense as well in these cases, but trust me - its satisfying entertainment because it only pops up when you win. I know you well enough to know that you, too, would much rather get what you asked for upfront. You win far more brownie points with drama llamas when you act like a badass and slam a CCP decision, but at that point you've already failed at changing their minds in the first place.

      In the end - focus on results, not your public song and dance. Do what it takes to make sure the game is in a better place by the time you leave office. Don't worry about pleasing CCP, and don't worry about pleasing those that want blood in the blogs - Get CCP to listen to you and leave your mark on the game and you won't ever have to resort to "activism" or declarations of opposition.

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  13. I don't think you estrange yourself if you show your honest disagreement. Quite the opposite. It will make your approval worth so much more.

    What would be the point of a CSM that just agreed all the time?
    There is nothing gain for CCP from that and I'm sure they know it.

    As long as everyone keeps discussions on a professional level that's exactly what should happen.


    All of us should remember their share of "Seemed like a great idea. At the time..."! We are human, we err, we need to be allowed to do so - we need to allow ourselfes to do so! As long as there was support from the majority of the CSM, hindsight and dwelling on the past won't help anyone.


    I'm confident you'll do fine :)

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  14. "But other CSM members might view it as a risk-reward proposition. If I say in public 'I believe this was a dumb call, I argued against it at the time, and I got overruled' or even just a straight 'I believe this was a poor decision', I risk the relationship with CCP and potentially build up a reputation as someone CCP devs might not want to work with. That risks my ability to function as a CSM member for the somewhat dubious reward of scoring points with you fine people."

    That is politics you are talking about. But, despite the silly CSM name and the election nonsense, you are not a politician. You are not supposed to be focused on running for re-election, nor trying to win friends at CCP, nor cater to special interest groups.

    You are there to speak openly and honestly about how us, the players, are likely to respond to any given CCP design, idea or decision. You are there to bring the necessary transparency of the inner workings of CCP back to the players, so that we can *all* - and not just the CSM members - help CCP to make a better game.

    And, if CCP doesn't appreciate what you are saying, or refuses to hear it or allow you to say it, then they aren't slighting you, personally - in fact, they are slighting the players whom you are representing - which is to say, their customers. In which case, we reserve the right to rage and riot and unsub accounts. Always keep this in mind. ;)

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  15. Your readers won't actually know whether you're holding back or not. So it matters little to me.

    What's important is how CCP and the other CSM members will react, and it's those people who you have to get the buy-in from. Those are the relationships that may be spoilt by what could be seen as whining because you didn't get your way.

    Also (and not wanting to teach you to suck eggs, as I'm sure you're well aware of this already) how you make any such posts is important. You need to be constructive, not confrontational, and certainly need to try and avoid being personal.

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  16. Jester,

    You absolutely have to speak out when you disagree with CCP about something that will be in the game. However, since you are also working with CCP to make a better game for all of us. With that in mind, giving the Devs a "head's up" and asking them to contribute to the blog post in question is a must. It will give them a chance to explain their side and hopefully mitigate some player rages in the process.

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  17. I would've thought that a well reasoned and as un-biased as possible discussion would be alright with CCP. As far as I can gather CCP want to get the players opinions on pretty much everything at the moment so more feedback should be nice. As long as you don't turn into a raving, CCP-bashing loony where every other sentence is an ad hominem, that is.

    And 'lol' at the CSM is the null-sec lobby group consipiracy theory. Why would CCP want to destroy their own game? What gives you the impression they want to get rid of high-sec when they say their goal is to make all area viable? Why wouldn't people who play this game want to see it continue?
    On a related note, CCP has good form for just pushing stuff through against the CSMs wishes if they think the CSM is spouting BS. They aren't doing it now because the CSM is useful and communicative (to both players (hint hint!) and devs) but if they suspect CSM has just become null-secs mouthpiece then they'll go back to ignoring it.

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  19. Fair enough, just be respectful when disagreeing.

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  20. (Not necessarily adding anything to the public discussion, but as specific feedback to your question:)
    As a representative of the players, I want you to make your stance known since that affects my opinion on whether you and the CSM at large are representing me effectively. Please do carry on as you have decided here. I often see "did you discuss this with the CSM?" or "the CSM agreed to this?!" posts in feedback threads and I approve when I see CSM members coming out and discussing what (if any) input they had on the feature.

    I am a little worried because I think that Eve is not necessarily business to all of CCP. For instance any devs that were hired out of the player base are likely to see this is as more of a passion than business and there could be strong emotions involved (and that goes for the CSM as well). However you have always seemed to be reasonable and as long as you are constructive in your disagreements then I am not too worried that you will damage the relationship between the CSM and CCP. I think that bringing in the devs as much as possible would definitely help defuse the extra tension, although they are not as free to speak as you are so they may not be able to respond at a robo-blogger pace. Because of this, I think that it would be nice if you could provide advance notice to any devs that you referencing in a post. I think that sort of courtesy nod should help them feel like you are being open with them, which hopefully means that they will be inclined to be the same with you.

    Thanks for all the work you are putting in!

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  21. Thanks for validating why I voted for you. Calling it as you see it fits you well. Don't stop and don't muzzle yourself where possible.

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  22. So I guess this was sparked by something. What are they up to, that you don't agree on? ;)

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